FindItMore | Calcium is a very important component of our overall health. Every cell in human body makes use of calcium. The human body makes use of calcium in areas like our nervous system, bone, heart, and muscles. On top of supporting our physiological functions, the body also stores calcium.
As we age our bodies stop absorbing as much calcium as they used to and as much as we need. This becomes problematic because calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body. More than 98% is stored in our skeleton. Calcium is vital for healthy cells and it is also associated with healthy teeth.
How Calcium Works to keep us Healthy
Our bodies keep the amount of calcium in our blood between a narrow range. This range lets the cells present in the body to function right and stay healthy overall. When we don’t have enough calcium, the first thing that takes a hit is our blood. When our bloodstream does not have enough of the mineral, the body’s parathyroid glands release the PTH hormone, this differs from the thyroid hormone. It instructs our bones to release some of their calcium into the blood. The Parathyroid hormone also puts Vitamin D into play which increases our calcium absorption in the intestine area.
Calcium in Different Stages of Life
The amount of calcium your body needs depends on your gender and age.
A pregnant woman needs 1100 mg of calcium every day compared to the normal recommended intake which is 800 mg a day. The increased margin is equal to a whole serving of calcium-rich foods. Which means during pregnancy you need four meals of calcium enriched foods.
During adolescence and childhood calcium is being used to develop and build your skeletal structure and help you grow.
For adults, calcium is necessary to maintain bone strength. Since calcium is being lost as you age, you need at least three servings of calcium-rich foods a day. Each serving must offer calcium of 300 mg. In addition, you must include muscle and bone strengthening exercises such as weight training in your fitness routine to stay healthy.
Risks Linked to Too Little Calcium
There are health risks connected to having too little calcium, the biggest one is having weak bones which may break when your body is under pressure. When children do not get enough calcium, they may never reach the potential of their adult height. Adults not consuming enough calcium may run the risk of low bone density and ultimately Osteoporosis. The age when you are most sensitive and need your daily dose of calcium is around the age of 50.
Diet and Calcium
Your body does not make its own calcium so you must consume it from other sources. Calcium is present in a ton of different foods. The most popular calcium sources include dairy products like yogurt, cheese, and milk. The mineral is also present in leafy greens such as kale and broccoli, in fish, and in calcium-fortified foods such as cereals, and milk substitutes.
However, to absorb the calcium you eat, you need vitamin D in your body. A couple of foods are rich in Vitamin D including egg yolks, and canned salmon. The best source for Vitamin D, however, remains sunlight exposure. The recommended dosage of vitamin D is 600 IUs or 15 micro-grams.
Considering Calcium Supplements
When you eat a healthy and balanced diet, you still may find that you are not getting enough calcium. This is true mostly if you are a vegan, are lactose intolerant, consume a lot of protein which causes your body to excrete calcium, have a bowel condition or disease, or are recovering from a treatment which involves corticosteroids.
If you are experiencing any of these situations, then taking supplements may be your best bet. If you are unsure about your calcium levels consult a dietitian who will help you choose the right supplements.
Do Calcium Supplements Come with Risks
These supplements may not be for everyone. For example, if you are suffering from a health condition which causes an excess of calcium in the blood, you definitely don’t need supplements. Too much of anything is a bad thing, and research has shown that taking more than the recommended amount of calcium does not make you healthy even if the body is supposed to store the mineral.
Some studies show that there is a link with a high intake of calcium and prostate cancer. Another study showed no link at all. Since the results are inconclusive, it is important to be careful about how much calcium you take.
Dietary calcium is safe, but having too much hurts our bones. Taking both calcium-fortified foods and calcium supplements may lead to the body absorbing more than it needs. Therefore it is important that you keep a track of how much you consume by checking the labels of everything that you consume. If you are visiting your doctor for some medical reason and they ask you about the meds you are taking, it is important that you tell them about the supplements as well.